Stuff I Write, Stuff I Like

Archive for June, 2013|Monthly archive page

Stuff I Like: Beer, Books, Snack Cakes, Pudding Pies, Small Acts of Survival, and Coming and Staying Home

In Uncategorized on June 22, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Full Pint Brewing is sponsoring the dual-book launch for Dave Newman’s The Slaughterhouse Poems and my The Bridge to Take When Things Get Serious Saturday, June 29. How awesome is that?


Full Pint is in North Versailles, Pa., where I lived until I was in third grade. North Versailles wasn’t much about craft beers back then. My family lived on Bevin Road, a really steep hill not far from the Dolly Madison Outlet. Dolly Madison had cheap day-old bread and egg buns and chocolate pudding pies my dad would buy in bulk.

dolly madison chocolate pie

By the time I was old enough to notice, my mother had made my father quit drinking beer. He replaced it with pudding pies. He loved chocolate-pudding lunch pies so much it embarrassed him. He would hide in the dark in the kitchen to eat his pies and think about everything else in life that didn’t give him that kind of pleasure.

All this has me thinking about ways to map a life. I can map my own life, for instance, by snack cakes and beer. I remember my first Zinger more vividly than I remember my high school graduation. And I remember my first taste of beer.

Firsts are always important, but some are more memorable than others.

When he was very young, my dad drove an Iron City Beer truck.

beer truck

My uncles all drank Iron and they’d sneak me sips. Sometimes I think they ashed in the beer first to be sure I didn’t like it too much. They didn’t mean anything serious by it. They were just rough like that. These were steelworkers and cops and numbers runners and men who didn’t seem to like their wives.


They didn’t need to worry about me liking Iron City back then. If you haven’t had Iron City, suck on your car keys. It’s pretty much like that.

As a kid, I thought it tasted like pavement and feet. I would know because one of my older cousins took after my uncles and would sometimes push me face down on the sidewalk and make me lick his feet.


It helped to remember I was adopted.

Sometimes my uncles would pretend to pick me up by my hair.

“It’ll make your hair strong,” they said, and flicked their cigarette butts off my grandmother’s porch.

“Iron,” they called their beer.

“You have to be strong to survive,” they’d say about the world.

It would be many years of keggers and frat parties — where I never gave much thought to the kind of beer I was flicking quarters into — before I’d come to appreciate great beers like the ones at Full Pint.


Some personal evolutions are easier to map than others, too.

Still, if I’m far from home and end up in a bar where they serve Iron City, I’ll probably order one. I’ll drink it for sentimental reasons. I’ll tell everyone around me I’m from Pittsburgh, that this beer is home. Then I’ll look for something wonderful from Full Pint.

full pint lineup

It’s important to remember where you come from, you see.


The book launch for Dave Newman’s The Slaughterhouse Poems and Lori Jakiela’s The Bridge to Take When Things Get Serious will be Saturday, June 29 at 7:30 p.m. at East End Book Exchange in Bloomfield, Pa. Free and open to everybody. Also featuring readings from New Yinzer columnist Adam Matcho and other special guests, as well as paintings on exhibit by Lou Ickes, cover artist for both books. Beer provided by – you bet! – Full Pint Brewing. Book signings and reception follows the readings. For more information, contact East End Book Exchange or e-mail

Stuff I Think About Stuff I Write: What Not to Say to Writers With A New Book Out (A Gentle Guide)

In Uncategorized on June 7, 2013 at 5:55 pm

I liked your first book better.

book critic

This would be great if you added some wizards.


I should write a book, let me tell you.


How much did you get for that?


What did The New York Times say?


So how’s Oprah?


Where can I get a copy of that?


You know that girl who had sex with a famous writer and wrote about it and sold like three zillion copies? You should do that.

sexy writer

What will you do when your children/mother/father/rabbi/priest read this?


What would possess you to write something like this?


I like Nicholas Sparks.


You look better in your cover photo than you do in person.


Want to read my novel manuscript?


Snookie’s memoir was pretty good.

Snooki" Promotes Her New Line Of Designer Sunglasses

Wow a book. That’s something. Good for you.


Seriously. Wizards. Can’t go wrong with wizards.


Stuff I Like: Parties! New-Book Smell! Parties with New-Book Smell!

In Uncategorized on June 4, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Pittsburgh folks — Hope you can make it out to a dual book launch celebrating the release of my new memoir, The Bridge to Take When Things Get Serious, and Dave Newman’s first full-length poetry collection, The Slaughterhouse Poems. It’s on Saturday, June 29 from 7:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. at East End Book Exchange in Bloomfield.

Here’s a press release with all the details:

Pittsburgh Authors Lori Jakiela and Dave Newman

Celebrate Release of New Books

newman piccropped-lori-jakiela-author-pic2.jpg

Pittsburgh authors Lori Jakiela and Dave Newman will celebrate the release of their latest books at a party Saturday, June 29 at 7:30 p.m. at East End Book Exchange in Bloomfield.

The event is free and open to the public, and will feature readings by Newman and Jakiela, as well as a few special guests including New Yinzer columnist Adam Matcho. Paintings by Pittsburgh artist Lou Ickes, who did the cover art for both Jakiela’s and Newman’s new books, will be on display. Booksignings and a reception follow the readings.

Jakiela’s new book, “The Bridge to Take When Things Get Serious” (C&R Press), is a follow-up to her 2006 memoir, “Miss New York Has Everything” (Hatchette).

bridge cover

Best-selling author Stewart O’Nan calls “The Bridge to Take When Things Get Serious” “fiercely sad and heartbreakingly funny.” Jane McCafferty, bestselling author of “First You Try Everything” and more, calls Jakiela “a highly original writer who commemorates life with great humor and a radical, poetic simplicity that allows you to see your own life anew.”

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said “The Bridge to Take” is “so good you’ll wonder why (Jakiela) isn’t the literary toast of the entire country by now. This is a book about taking care of a dying mother, a writing teacher’s lament about the next generation and a sideways love story. …and while this memoir may not be the last word on the volatile subject of mother/daughter relationships, it is fair to assume it is already among the most honest and best written this decade.”

Newman’s latest book, “The Slaughterhouse Poems” (White Gorilla Press), is his first full-length poetry collection.

SlaughterHouse Cover front only

Bestselling author Don Ray Pollock (“The Devil All the Time” and more) calls Newman “an immense talent.” Legendary poet Gerald Locklin says Newman is “the best writer of his generation.”

Poet Michael Casey, author of “Check Points,” calls “The Slaugterhouse Poems “a great read. It is funny and grim. It is also meaningful, having a historical setting where even Volkswagen America is letting workers go and where an underemployed teenager is the richest man in the barroom. I have to call it dramatic too and truly memorable; I trust the movie option is now in the mail to the poet.”

Dave Newman is the author of the novels “Raymond Carver Will Not Raise Our Children” (Writers Tribe Books, 2012) and “Please Don’t Shoot Anyone Tonight” (World Parade Books, 2010). He’s worked as a truck driver, a book store manager, an air filter salesman, a house painter, and a college teacher. More than 100 of his poems and stories have appeared in magazines throughout the world and his work has been widely anthologized, most recently in “Beside the City of Angels” (World Parade Books) and “The Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary Poetry” (Autumn House Press).

In addition to her two memoirs, Lori Jakiela is the author of a full-length poetry collection, “Spot The Terrorist!” (Turning Point, 2012), and several poetry chapbooks. Her essays and poems have been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Quarterly, The New Yinzer and elsewhere. She teaches in the writing programs at Pitt-Greensburg and Chatham University.

Jakiela and Newman, who are married, live in Trafford, Pa. with their two children. They have a lot of books in their house.

For more information about the book-release party, contact Lesley Rains at East End Book Exchange, 412-224-2847 or To contact the authors directly, e-mail